Golfer Ali Lindo’s summer tournament friends took to calling her “the fiery Filipino” – a nod to her heritage, her temperament and pro golfer Suzann Pettersen, aka “the fiery Norwegian,” who piled up six runnerup finishes on the LPGA Tour in 2010.
That’s where the Kennedy junior has landed for much of this season, often tightly bunched with Jefferson senior standout Megan Furnish and Washington sophomore MJ Kamin, with the rest of the field a distance behind.
“I’m definitely at the bottom of those two,” says a modest Lindo, who hasn’t played head-to-head with Furnish but knows Kamin well from summer tournaments. “I love playing with MJ. Megan and MJ are both very serious golfers, which is a problem for me.
"I just can’t be serious. I laugh at myself. I have to relax or it doesn’t work out for me.”
But she has gotten plenty serious about her game in the last year, doing her best to follow in the footsteps of her hero, family friend and fellow Elmcrest Country Club member Zach Johnson, who has notched seven wins on the PGA Tour including the 2007 Masters.
“My dad played a round of golf with Zach’s dad when they were just trying to get Zach started on the tour,” she says. Her father, Brian Lindo, joined the group of Elmcrest friends who pooled their resources to help launch Zach on his professional career.
“My dad still plays with Zach’s dad, and they are a real support system for me,” Lindo says.
Lindo says she met Zach when she was 10 or 11 years old. Watching his ascendancy on the tour as her family attended PGA tournaments around the Midwest spurred her interest in the game.
She had played a little golf – but then she had played everything: soccer, basketball, softball, swimming. In eighth grade she got serious about golf.
“Zach has been my inspiration,” she says. “He’s so consistent. He’s top-5 in putting every year, and putting is where it is. He can be serious, but he’s very relaxed in his game. He has faith that he can do it, and he has a great support system – the whole Elmcrest family.”
Based on her critique of her game, Lindo might have more in common at this point with the most recent Masters champion, Bubba Watson, than with Johnson. Like Watson, she’s a long-ball hitter who can launch a 210-yard drive on a good day, but she struggles to keep her head in the moment.
“My brain goes seven different ways a million miles per hour,” she says. “It’s definitely something I need to work on. I hope to be able to focus more than two seconds someday.”
This past summer, she played in lots of tournaments and worked on her game with Elmcrest pro Larry Gladson, who also helped shape Zach’s game. “I worked a ton on my short game and spent days on the putting green,” she says. “And then working on my mental game, trying not to think too much about bad shots.”
Her summer surge has yielded consistent results this season, as she has garnered mostly top-5 finishes and several top-2's. Away from her Metro adversaries, she has won two quadrangular meets.
“I love winning,” she says. “Being a medalist is a rush that keeps you wanting to play.”
Along with finishing her meets on top, her season-long goal is to qualify for state, a challenge that will elude her if she doesn’t improve her course management skills, she says.
“I need to cut down on stupid mistakes. I like going for the green,” she says with an embarrassed grin. “If I can stay in the low 80s and cut a couple of stupid strokes off, I should be good.”As she works to eliminate risky shots from her game, Lindo is also nursing a knee injury sustained when she jumped over a set of stairs while participating in her other favorite activity – Kennedy’s “Happiness” show choir.
The humor of the fact that she injured herself through music rather than sports is not lost on Lindo or her coach, Julie Bush, who admitted she was a bit surprised to see Lindo walk into her chemistry class on crutches after the incident.
Lindo aggravated the injury last week and has limped around the course during her most recent meets. Her treatment regimen consists primarily of a series of stretching exercises prescribed by her father, a family practice physician. “It’s getting better,” she says.
Bush counts Lindo as among the five most talented golfers she has coached in her 13 years at Kennedy. “She’s got a lot of potential if we can work on a few things,” she says,
noting that the competition among the Metro’s top trio of golfers has been good for all of them.
“Ali hits very well and has a good swing. She practices a lot and plays in a lot of tournaments. We’re working on making sure we stay focused, working on her mental game and not getting so frustrated on bad holes.”
Lindo’s humor helps in that regard, Bush says. “She’s very funny – always has something funny to say. It’s good to be having fun. If you have a bad shot, you can laugh and get through it.”
Lindo’s other antidote for stress is music, says the fiery, funny Filipino, who often hums or sings her way around the course. “I love music. That’s what makes me happy when I’m having a bad round.”
And she can always fall back on the same close-knit Elmcrest family that got her hero through the rough patches in his career. “When I’m not playing good, Zach’s dad says, ‘Don’t worry. You’re still beating your dad,’” she laughs.
|< Prev||Next >|